- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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With free agency around the corner, Gregg Rosenthal, the editor of NFL.com's "Around the League" blog, has unveiled his list of the top 85 free agents, tiered into five categories.
The list includes five Patriots (two more, guard Donald Thomas and safety Patrick Chung, were among those who narrowly missed the cut), kicked off by Sebastian Vollmer, Rosenthal's seventh-best free agent and a player whom he fits into the second tier: impact starters. He posits that Vollmer is more important to the Patriots' future than Wes Welker, who also cracks the impact starter tier at No. 14 overall. Rosenthal suggests that a reunion between the Patriots and Welker would come as no surprise.
To wrap things up, running back Danny Woodhead and wide receiver Julian Edelman are two of the final three players on Rosenthal's list and fall under the fifth and final tier of players who are effective in the right role.
It's hard to argue with his top five Patriots free agents, as Welker, Talib and Vollmer are those who had the greatest impact last season and look to attract the most interest if they hit the open market. Edelman and Woodhead are valuable offensive and special-teams commodities, and it would not be a surprise to see either or both retained by the Patriots.
The list is comprehensive and broken down nicely, laying out where a player stands relative to the entire league, not just his specific team.
Cornerback figures to be an area of interest for the Patriots this offseason, and Rosenthal's list includes a dozen players at that position. Be it through the draft or free agency, the Patriots figure to add personnel to the secondary, with Talib as a potential priority.
To see the entire list, click HERE.